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Alex Normand

How to unzip a zip archive through a unix pipe with bsdtar

When I'm busy working on a Front-End project I mainly use chromium as my development browser to test the latest bleeding-edge features which have just been pushed to the dev tools.

The latest chromium builds are easily downloadable from download-chromium.

Simply download the zip archive, unzip it and you're done!

I needed a short script for my mac at work that:

  1. downloads the latest chromium build
  2. unzips the latest chromium build
  3. moves in to the /Applications folder.

My first attempt looked like this:


curl -#L >
cp -fr chrome-mac /Applications
rm -fr chrome-mac

I then realized after looking on stackoverflow for a one-liner solution that the unzip command can't unzip through a unix pipe (as explained in ruario's answer).

In his answer, ruario suggests using an implementation of tar (bsdtar) which is bundled with libarchive on some variants of BSD.

This version of bsdtar can create and extract zip archives!

bsdtar can even read a zip file through a pipe when extracting a zip file. I was able to turn my quick & dirty bash script into a neat one-liner :)

curl -#L | bsdtar -xf- -C /Applications

Simply add a new alias to your .bashrc or .bash_profile file:

alias dl-chromium='curl -#L | bsdtar -xf- -C /Applications'

Use with caution, chromium builds can sometimes be unstable!